Posted: December 15th, 2021

According to the Ministry of the Solicitor General, there were more than 110,000 fires in Ontario between 2010-2019, resulting in billions of dollars in damages and hundreds of fatalities. With both property and human life at stake, fire hazard identification is the responsibility of business owners, property managers, and every employee. 

While a regularly scheduled inspection can help identify fire hazards, everyone working in a commercial facility should be able to spot potentially dangerous situations. Once you’re familiar with the most common ways fires begin, you and your staff should be able to easily spot the most common hazards and correct them before they ignite.

1) Smoking Materials

Smoking materials are the leading cause of fires in residential buildings. While Ontario law prohibits smoking in public areas, such as stairways, lobbies, elevators, and laundry facilities, most properties allow smoking inside private residences. In addition, property managers can post signs to remind tenants to use heavy no-tip ashtrays and not to smoke when in bed or when consuming alcohol.

2) Electrical Circuits

Fires from electrical circuits are a serious problem for all types of commercial buildings. The wire gauge size limits the amperage an electrical circuit can carry. While a fuse or electrical breaker should protect the wiring from overheating, employees and managers should be careful not to overload a circuit. 

With the constant increase of power-consuming devices in offices, data centers, and plants, it can be tempting to daisy chain power strips to a single electrical outlet. Unfortunately, this is a fire hazard, and you should avoid this by having an electrician install additional electrical receptacles. Managers should periodically conduct an inspection for overloaded circuits and educate their employees on this fire hazard.

3) Combustible Materials

Materials like paper and cardboard are highly combustible and provide fuel for a fire to spread. If stored in a poor location, they can turn a small fire into a devastating one. Managers should develop a routine that encourages employees to dispose of such materials as quickly as possible. 

Remember not to store combustible materials in hallways or near exits. They can impede personnel from safely escaping during a fire.

4) Flammable and Combustible Liquids

The susceptibility to burn makes liquids flammable or combustible, and they’re classified by their flashpoints. While combustible liquids require higher than normal working area temperatures, flammable liquids can easily ignite at average working temperatures.

Both flammable and combustible liquids are common in most workplaces. Carefully store materials, such as waxes, polishes, cleaners, solvents, and thinners, in a locked and ventilated cabinet to prevent them from igniting a dangerous fire.

5) Cooking Equipment

Stoves and fryers used in restaurants are another leading cause of commercial fires. Therefore, staff should always monitor grease near an open flame. 

Heavily used equipment like coffee makers and toasters are also responsible for fires. Restaurant management and staff should make sure they aren’t near combustible material when in use.

6) Heating Equipment

Property managers should consider heat pumps, boilers, heat lamps, and space heaters to be fire hazards and perform regular inspections on them. Management and staff should verify that they’re functioning correctly and keep them away from combustible or flammable materials.

Property and operations managers have a lot of responsibilities, and fire hazard identification often doesn’t get the amount of attention it deserves. However, regular inspection and maintenance of potential fire hazards should be an essential aspect of every business property.

If you don’t feel you have the time or expertise to correctly monitor fire hazards on your property, the experts at Ontario’s All Protect Systems, Inc can help you. In fact, they offer services in every aspect of fire safety, such as fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers and hoses, emergency and exit lighting, fire safety plans, gas detection, and regular inspections. Call them today to schedule your initial consultation.